Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Kushner arrives to try for Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough

Israeli border guards question a Palestinian woman outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. — AFP Israeli border guards question a Palestinian woman outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. — AFP
Andrew Cummings | 22 June, 2017, 10:13

Jared Kushner's return to Israel this week ramps up White House efforts to broker a peace deal, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gauges what he needs to give Palestinians to bring ties with the broader Arab world out of the shadows, diplomats and Israeli government aides said.

USA officials are calling the trip part of an effort to keep the conversation going rather than the launching of a new phase in the peace process, saying that Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the president's special representative for worldwide negotiations, are likely to return repeatedly.

"This is the way Netanyahu is meeting Trump's envoys", said Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian official.

The new atmosphere of goodwill, along with concerns of potentially provoking the unpredictable president, could give Trump leverage in extracting concessions from the sides.

Amona will be the first Jewish settlement in the West Bank for more than 25 years and will rehouse 40 families it evicted from a wildcat outpost in February 2017.

Along with Kushner, special envoy Greenblatt has already visited Israel and the West Bank several times. Hadas Malka, shortly after arriving to Israel on Wednesday in a bid to restart peace talks.

Palestinians regard settlements, around 200 of which have been built over the past 50 years on occupied land that they seek for a state, as obstacles to a viable and contiguous country.

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Trump's appointment of conservative Gorsuch has been his most significant win since taking office in January. The Hawaii judge also blocked a 120-day ban on refugees entering the United States .

The United Nations considers all settlements to be illegal and has raised alarm that the construction on land earmarked for a future Palestinian state will kill off the two-state solution to end the Middle East conflict.

The #White House accepted that Kushner was the main key to the President's last trip to Israel and Palestinian areas on May 22-23.

A White House statement issued following the visit noted that Greenblatt offered condolences on behalf of the Trump administration.

Mladenov was delivering the second report on implementation of the resolution adopted by the council in December condemning Israeli settlements as a "flagrant violation" of global law.

Abbas, who previously said he would not enter peace negotiations unless Netanyahu froze all settlement construction, recently indicated he would drop the condition.

"The ambassador was also apprised of developments regarding the investigation, which began with the arrest of the [east Jerusalem man] who drove the terrorists to the site of the attack, as well as the arrest of one of the terrorist's mother [for helping them]". They say the U.S.is promising to be actively involved and may even present a declaration of principles as a guide for talks.

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